USAirways Complaint - Delayed flight, damaged bag, no response
Resolution Update on 07/01/2009:
In addition to posting this online complaint, I resent my hard copy letter (with the information above and below it, the way I posted it online) to the director of Customer Relations. A few weeks later I received a check (no letter or explanation or anything) for $215 (I guess they reimbursed me for checking the bag, but decided I wasn't getting anything for the breastmilk!). I would have been satisfied with a formal apology, but I will certainly take the check. Thank you!
I sent the following letter via email on April 27, 2009 (using the online customer service form, which is listed as the preferred method of communication). Though your Web site states that all written complaints are processed in 3-4 business days, I’ve received no response to date - it is now June 2nd.
I am writing to tell you about my recent experience flying US Airways. I have two young children at home, so I haven’t flown in about 3 years. I was in Atlanta attending a conference and I have an infant at home. I am nursing, so I was traveling with my breast pump. In anticipation of the trip home, I purchased 2 large thermoses to transport the milk. When closed properly, they are vacuum sealed, and hold the temperature of a liquid for up to 24 hours. At the airport, I paid the $15 to check this bag and spoke to agent about the bag. I told her that it contained breast milk and if it were to be searched, I needed to ensure that the thermoses would be closed tightly. She assured me that the agents checking the bags were very careful.
I was flying from Atlanta to Philadelphia, with a connection in Charlotte. The flight from Atlanta was delayed, meaning that everyone on the flight missed their connections. During the entire three hours the flight was delayed, my fellow passengers and I stood in line at the desk. We did not know if we should take the delayed flight, if we were being rebooked from Atlanta or from Charlotte, or any other helpful information. The supervisor at the desk took frequent breaks. While he was on a break and not helping customers, I asked him about my checked bag. I told him that I had refrigerated items and also that I had medicine that I needed to take that evening. I asked if, since the bag had not yet been put on the flight and it looked like we had a long wait, if it was possible to get back my bag. He said that that would be problematic. I asked what my recourse would be and he said that if I had a life threatening condition, he could call the paramedics. Luckily, I did not, but I don’t imagine this would have been helpful to someone who did.
I do want to say that when we landed in Charlotte, the staff was excellent. They appeared to have no knowledge that there would be a plane full of dislocated travelers needing their connections rebooked and hotel and meal vouchers, but they immediately jumped to action. They called over more staff, took care of us all very quickly, and were very pleasant as well. I (am I’m sure the rest of the passengers) really appreciated that.
The agents did tell us that we would be able to get our bags from the plane, but when we went to the baggage area we were told that the baggage crew had gone home and there was no way the bags were getting off of the plane that evening. The agent I spoke with said that my bag would go to Philadelphia on the 6:30AM flight. I was not able to get on that flight, however; I was confirmed on the 5:50PM flight. I asked if my bag could be retrieved and sent to the hotel in the morning (I had until about noon to get it into the refrigerator).
The agent photo copied my claim ticket and took my information. I was able to get a mini-fridge at the hotel, so I was hopeful that maybe I would be able to salvage the milk after all.
When I didn’t hear anything in the morning, I called the airline and was told that my bag had gone to Philadelphia on the 6:30AM flight. When I arrived in Philadelphia - nearly 19 hours after I was scheduled to come home – I knew that I would be throwing away 70 ounces of breast milk (if this seems like no big deal to you, please tell this story to a nursing mother). I did not know, however, that I would be throwing away my entire bag. When I picked it up, it was dripping. The thermoses had been opened, but not tightly closed. This not only caused 70 ounces of milk to spill into and soak my bag, but it also ruined the vacuum seal, so the glass in the thermoses exploded. So, I paid you $15 to ruin my bag and everything in it.
I want to assure you that I was always polite and respectful to your agents. I understand that things happen beyond the airline’s control and that you certainly cannot be held accountable for weather delays. However, I do think the situation could have been handled better. I think that there were multiple opportunities for me to retrieve my bag that were ignored, and I think better care could have been taken when examining my items. I have been compliant to added security measures and extra fees, but I think these need to be tempered with respect for your passengers. US Airways will no longer be my airline of choice.